There are two reasons you engage in international diplomacy:
1. You both want roughly the same thing, but there are some thorny issues involved which must be addressed before either of you can get it. Trade agreements and alliances against a third party are this sort of diplomacy.
2. You and the other guy want diametrically opposed outcomes and you’re both trying to force the other to climb down, with a risk of war ever present. This sort of thing comes up when two nations with a great deal of enmity are getting at loggerheads.
The first example is mostly harmless in that success doesn’t lead to universal peace and brotherhood, but failure also doesn’t come with much cost. It would be the rarest of rare birds if, say, a negotiation over a trade deal resulted in war breaking out between the two parties because they couldn’t come to an agreement on tariffs. On the other hand, the second form of diplomacy is fraught with danger because the whole point of negotiating is to try to prevent a war – both sides want something the other side cannot agree to. In negotiating, what they are really doing is trying to answer the question, “are you willing to fight over it?”.
In the aftermath of the Russo-Turkish War in 1877, Russia – victorious – was in a mood to just do as she wished with Turkish possessions…which then ranged deep into the Balkans of Europe and which were of great concern to other major powers. When Russia’s plans for prostrate Turkey became known, Britain, especially, let it be known that Russia’s plans were unacceptable and if not modified, war would result. The Germans, under Bismarck, held a conference of all interested parties in Berlin and to Bismarck fell the task of finding out if the British answer to the question was really, “yes”. Bismarck went at it for quite a long time against the British Prime Minister, Disraeli, trying to get out of him a “no”. At the end of it, Britain’s position was crystal clear and Bismarck, who was trusted by the Russians, let them know that if they persisted, they’d have a war with Britain, with incalculable risks that other nations would become involved. Russia, having got her “yes” from Britain, answered her “no” in reply…Russia didn’t want a war with Britain. They weren’t willing to fight over it. War was averted (well, strictly speaking, it was delayed…until 1914 when Russia started fishing in those same troubled waters…but, still, peace was achieved in the 1870’s which endured for decades). That is the sort of diplomacy we’re really thinking of when we think “diplomacy”.
Our liberals use the word diplomacy quite a lot – in fact, it is their magic talisman against all threats. All you gotta do is get some diplomacy going and everything can be made right. But what liberals don’t understand – refuse to understand – is that in the great international crisis, the question remains as always: are you willing to fight about it? If you are not willing to fight about it, then you will not get what you want. The other side, once sure you won’t fight, will just grab what they demanded – and then probably demand even more, just to see how far you can be pushed until the answer becomes “yes”, with the risk that they’ll miscalculate your weakness and thus provoke a war (this was Hitler’s problem in 1939 – he thought that after Munich he could take Poland without Britain fighting…he miscalculated…there was a lot of surrender in Neville Chamberlain, but not complete national abasement). In Obama’s Iran negotiations, what we are seeing are the results of one side thinking that negotiations are the end rather than the means – and they are viewed as an end, in themselves, because a person like Obama is fundamentally incapable of envisioning war resulting from failure.
Obama is going to get his agreement with Iran – which will be of no real value, because all Obama wants is the “agreement”…something on paper which says that peace and amity are secured. What actually happens is irrelevant – the agreement is all. This is diplomacy in a void – mere sound and fury, signifying nothing. I’ve watched a few MSM reports of late – forgive me for wasting my time – and they’re all, “there is only a few days left until the deadline”. Deadline? Deadline for what? Suppose we pass it – are we going to go to war? No. Impose new sanctions? No. Stop negotiating? No. We’ll just set a new deadline. Because we have to get an agreement – and, in fact, the current deadline, given Obama, means the pressure is on us. As we won’t do anything if the deadline is passed, it is up to us to get something on paper before the deadline arrives. The Iranians know this full well – and are taking advantage of it (their demand that all sanctions be lifted is a, “we know you won’t do anything, so give us all we want” ploy). At the end of the day, it would have been better all around if Obama had just unilaterally terminated the sanctions and entered into no negotiations, at all. Our overall position would be stronger – we could still, in theory, have a military option on the table, even if only as a wink and a nod to Israel, should they decide to strike. Now there is no military option, rumors that we’ve agreed to prevent even an Israeli strike, and an upcoming agreement which will commit us to removing sanctions without stopping Iran’s nuclear program. Obama is essentially going to make the United States the guarantor of Iran’s nuclear program – protected until fruition by an “agreement”…and once complete, impossible to reverse because you can’t ever force a nation to give up nuclear weapons.
My view is that Obama doesn’t understand this – he has shown over time that he understands very little about how the world works. Combine this with a set of liberals in his Administration who are likely convinced that Iran is only an enemy because of bad American actions, and you’ve got the impetus for one of the most astoundingly stupid foreign policy programs in human history. Obama is going to redeem Neville Chamberlain – after Obama gets done with Iran, people will be able to look back and say, “well, at least Chamberlain didn’t actually arm the Germans”.
How this mess is to be cleaned up remains to be seen – if Iran tests a nuclear weapon before 1/20/17, there will be no way for us to really do anything. We’ll just have to wait for the inevitable Iranian collapse – their fertility rate is below replacement level and corrupt, dictatorial governments are really never too long for this world. The USSR showed probably the maximum length of time such a thing can endure before it implodes. But this could mean several decades of a nuclear-armed Iran causing massive trouble around the world. If Iran doesn’t get a nuke before Obama leaves office, then the next President will have to make stopping Iran the first priority of foreign policy – and we’d better be loud and clear that our answer is “yes” to the question, or we’ll just be wasting our time.